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I am Joel the son of Pethuel.
And this is the message
    the Lord gave to me.

Locusts Cover the Land

Listen, you leaders
and everyone else
    in the land.
Has anything like this
    ever happened before?
Tell our children!
Let it be told
    to our grandchildren
    and their children too.

Swarm after swarm of locusts[a]
has attacked our crops,
    eating everything in sight.
Sober up, you drunkards!
Cry long and loud;
    your wine supply is gone.
A powerful nation[b]
with countless troops
    has invaded our land.
They have the teeth and jaws
    of powerful lions.
Our grapevines and fig trees
are stripped bare;
    only naked branches remain.

Grieve like a young woman
mourning for the man
    she was to marry.
Offerings of grain and wine
are no longer brought
    to the Lord’s temple.
His servants, the priests,
    are deep in sorrow.
10 Barren fields mourn;
grain, grapes, and olives
    are scorched and shriveled.

11 Mourn for our farms
    and our vineyards!
There’s no wheat or barley
    growing in our fields.
12 Grapevines have dried up
and so has every tree—
    figs and pomegranates,[c]
    date palms and apples.
All happiness has faded away.

Return to God

13 Mourn, you priests who serve
    at the altar of my God.
Spend your days and nights
    wearing sackcloth.[d]
Offerings of grain and wine
are no longer brought
    to the Lord’s temple.

14 Tell the leaders and people
to come together
    at the temple.
Order them to go without eating[e]
    and to pray sincerely.
15 We are in for trouble!
Soon the Lord All-Powerful
    will bring disaster.
16 Our food is already gone;
there’s no more celebrating
    at the temple of our God.

17 Seeds dry up in the ground;[f]
    no harvest is possible.
Our barns are in bad shape,
with no grain
    to store in them.
18 Our cattle wander aimlessly,
moaning for lack of pasture,
    and sheep are suffering.[g]
19 I cry out to you, Lord.
Grasslands and forests are eaten
    by the scorching heat.
20 Wild animals have no water
    because of you;
rivers and streams are dry,
    and pastures are parched.

Footnotes

  1. 1.4 Swarm. . . locusts: The Hebrew text lists either four kinds of locusts or locusts in four stages of their development. Locusts are a type of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.
  2. 1.6 A powerful nation: The swarms of locusts.
  3. 1.12 pomegranates: A bright red fruit that looks like an apple.
  4. 1.13 sackcloth: A rough, dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
  5. 1.14 go without eating: As a way of showing sorrow for their sins.
  6. 1.17 Seeds. . . ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  7. 1.18 sheep are suffering: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.